Monday media watch [13.01.14 AM]: Arsenal press previews
Sky Sports: Paul Lambert urged Aston Villa's fans to help his side through a difficult spell as they prepare to face title chasing Arsenal. Villa crashed out of the FA Cup last weekend after a shock defeat to Sheffield United, the club's fifth loss in their last seven games. Lambert understands the frustration of the fans following the dismal recent run, but believes their backing is crucial if Villa are to stop the rot against Arsenal tonight. "I don't have any problem with the crowd," said Lambert ahead of the Villa Park clash. "If the team is not performing, then you expect people to vent their frustration - that is normal. "But we are a young side. "Last year, we played Newcastle at home and we were getting beaten 2-0 in the first half. "Then we scored, and for about 40 minutes, it didn't matter what we did, that crowd was right with us. They were brilliant that time. "Because you are in your second year, it might be a different view, but if they can stick with it and see us through the hard times when we need them... because we certainly need them."
Independent: Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert hopes the club's fans can "stick with it" and get behind the team in tonight's Barclays Premier League home clash with Arsenal as the midlands outfit look to bounce back from their shock FA Cup loss to Sheffield United. The 2-1 reverse in the third-round cup tie - against Sky Bet League One opposition - was Villa's fifth defeat in their last seven games in all competitions. And it was yet another disappointing day at Villa Park in a campaign in which their home record so far shows just two victories and six losses from 10 top-flight fixtures. There were boos from Villa fans at the final whistle and Lambert has expressed his understanding for their frustration. But the Scot - under whom Villa finished 15th in the Premier League last season, his first in charge of the club - has also emphasised how important he feels it is that the supporters do all they can to help the players.
Daily Express: Aston Villa are hoping to end their desperately poor home form tonight and shock Arsenal again. The Gunners will go back to the top of the Premier League with a win at Villa Park and are overwhelming favourites to do just that. Villa have won only two home league games all season, losing six. And the Midlands side were knocked out of the FA Cup by League One outfit Sheffield United the last time they played at Villa Park, on January 4. But Villa did manage to pull off a shock 3-1 victory at Arsenal on the first day of the season and manager Paul Lambert is clinging to that. "We've done it once and we'll try and do it again," said Lambert. "After the Sheffield United game I didn't sleep great, didn't eat great, the usual stuff. That's the life of a football manager."
Daily Star: Paul Lambert has challenged his Aston Villa side to go out and make history by claiming a first league double over Arsenal in 21 years. Villa stunned the Gunners with a 3-1 opening-day win at the Emirates - the only time Arsene Wenger's men have lost at home in the league this season. Now boss Lambert is desperate for Villa to prove in tonight's reverse fixture that it was no fluke as they bid to boost their miserable home record when the Londoners visit Villa Park. The history books are against them, with Villa having failed to win both matches since the 1992-93 campaign when Ron Atkinson was boss. Lambert said: "We'll try to win the game. We know we're going to have to play well, with and without the ball. "But we know we can hurt them. If we click and we're on it we can certainly create things. It's an opportunity for the lads to play in another massive game against a really good side. "The good thing is, in the back of their minds they've done it once, they know how hard they worked to do it then and they've got to try to do it again."
Daily Telegraph: Paul Lambert has endured another week of sleepless nights and has challenged Aston Villa to ease the tension by completing a double over Arsène Wenger. Lambert is under increasing pressure after an alarming run, including Villa's humiliating FA Cup exit against Sheffield United last weekend, and faces Arsenal on Monday night in another huge test for his injury-ravaged squad. Villa's problems are in stark contrast to the opening day of the season when they stunned Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, with their 3-1 win achieved in a mutinous atmosphere as Wenger was subjected to chants criticising the club's transfer policy. Wenger's future also appeared uncertain yet two weeks later Arsenal smashed their transfer record to sign Mesut Özil and have lost two league games since that nightmare start. Villa now appear set for another grim relegation battle, with their manager under fire from a growing number of supporters, and Lambert has told his players to prove their win in August was no fluke.
Daily Mirror: Paul Lambert wants Aston Villa to prove their opening day win was no fluke - but admits Mesut Ozil has since transformed Arsenal. Villa started the season in electrifying fashion, with a thrilling 3-1 victory at the Emirates. Lambert's side came from behind to win with two goals from Christian Benteke and an Antonio Luna goal. The result left many Gunners fans screaming for Arsene Wenger's head - but the Frenchman's side have lost only two League games since. And, on the eve of Monday's reverse fixture, Lambert revealed his belief that the signing of German international midfielder Ozil for £42million from Real Madrid on summer-window deadline day has been crucial.
Best of the Rest
BBC Sport: Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo is the odds-on favourite to win the Fifa Ballon d'Or on Monday. The Portugal captain, 28, is named on a three-man shortlist for the prize, along with Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Franck Ribery of Bayern Munich.
Sky Sports: Manuel Pellegrini has played down his furious touchline spat with Alan Pardew during Manchester City's win at Newcastle. The Chilean found himself on the wrong end of an expletive-laden rant from Pardew during the first half of a controversial Premier League encounter at St James' Park on Sunday.
BBC Sport: Steven Gerrard could continue in a deeper midfield role for Liverpool, according to manager Brendan Rodgers. The 33-year-old captain, who usually plays as an attacking midfielder, was positioned further back in Sunday's 5-3 Premier League win at Stoke.
*The extracts on this page are taken from various newspapers and media outlets. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Aston Villa.